When I tell people that I study law, I’m often bombarded with questions like, “Do you have a lot of readings? Is it hard? How do you cope?”
The truth is, I don’t cope. In fact I’ve dedicated my entire degree to learning how to cope. University is definitely a learning experience, but my learning is often directed at things external to the actual work: how to network, how to work with people in group assignments, how to write an essay within two hours, how not to cry after you’re called upon to answer a question in class that you haven’t prepared for.
Whenever people ask me the question “Do you enjoy studying law?” My immediate response is often, “do you enjoy living through crippling anxiety and reading cases by pretentious judges from more than a century ago?”
It wasn’t until recently that I realised just how much love I have for complaining about the law. I love screaming how annoyed I am by court decisions, or the unrealistic expectations of lecturers and future employers. I love complaining about having to carry my back-breakingly heavy textbooks to class, and explaining to students how much harder I consider open book exams are compared to closed book ones.
Despite all of that, I could not imagine my life without it. I feel its absence during holidays and when I’m around non-law students. It somehow consumes you without you even knowing it. Before you realise it, you’re incorporating Latin terms into your everyday language and reading newspaper articles relating to corporate lawsuits. It grows on you, no matter how much you yearn to escape from the never-ending pile of prescribed readings.
After my first year at law school, I wanted out. I did not fit the ‘typical lawyer stereotype’. I cry a little when I engage in heated arguments, and have never been a detail-orientated person. Law school forced me to acquire these skills and it forced me to face my weaknesses and tackle them head on.
The reality is that even if you’re passionate about the law, you’ll probably have a love-hate relationship with your degree. But I see the times when you hate being a law student as an opportunity. These are the moments that will teach you a lot about yourself, especially where your values lie and what your interests are. Some refocus on the things that drew them to law school, find new motivation and decide to stick with the degree, while others discover that law is definitely not for them and that their passions lie elsewhere. There's no right or wrong answer, but be prepared for the hate moments, and notice and embrace them!
Despite the fact that I still haven’t made up my mind as to whether I want to become a lawyer, I’m glad I didn’t drop out.
This is an adaptation of an article that previously appeared on The Polymilath. Republished with permission.
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